Have you ever noticed that so many scholarships and awards out there are for people with leadership potential? When my oldest was applying to college, we were struck by this. The most coveted scholarship, the one with the most financial outlay, was for those superstars with leadership skills. Even with the lesser scholarships, the goal seemed to be to find those students with that extra "something" that set them apart from the crowd and gave them a leg up.
Now there is nothing wrong with being a leader. Heaven knows we need them. Good ones. Strong ones. Wise ones. But there is a reason for the phrase "too many chiefs and not enough Indians." We can't ALL be leaders. We can't all be stars. Somebody has got to follow. Somebody must set up and take down. Somebody must organize. Somebody must direct. Have you ever noticed at the end of a movie all those names. Line upon line of names doing jobs that make no sense to us. But they were all part of the production that became the movie. We only recognize the stars. But they never could have made the production without the hundreds of people behind the scenes.
Most of life needs a few leaders and a lot of reliable cogs. We need those who have, in our estimation, bit parts and small jobs. Jobs that go unappreciated until they aren't done. Parts that are unnoticed until they break down. A bad seal caused the Challenger explosion in 1986. A bit part. Easy to overlook. But the link between life and death.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the Body of Christ being like a real body. We each have different parts but serve one body. And it is sometimes those lesser parts of the body that serve such an important purpose. Shortly after Matt and I were married I had an accident that included cabbage, a brand new really, really sharp knife, and lots of blood. The end result was that I lost an entire fingernail. Never before had I given a fingernail any thought at all, except when my oldest sister laughed at my nails because they grew in square.
Over the course of the next few weeks, as I eagerly awaited my new nail to grow in, I was shocked and pained (quite literally) to find out just how important the fingernail actually is. I think there may be no place on the human body as tender as the naked nail bed. The naked nail bed of the index finger finds just about anything first. Scissors, ends of coat hangers, door frames, razor blades, bricks. Even something as soft as a pillow can inflict pain on something so tender. So it is with us. Some of us are heads. Some of us are hearts. Some of us are feet. But some of us are fingernails. And the body will really hurt without us.
One day my husband and I, if we are ever wealthy enough, will start a scholarship, a Reliable Cog scholarship, for the student who is conscientious and responsible and hardworking, but lacks the bells and whistles of the great leaders and superstars of the world. Because reliable cogs are important, too.